Sunday, January 24, 2010

B-day Road Trip

My 40th birthday celebration continued with a wonderful beach trip with my sister Beth and friends Jinda and Jennifer this weekend. We traveled on Thursday to Santa Rosa, Florida, and arrived to a foggy sight. Luckily on Friday morning the mist had cleared to reveal a beautiful day and a lovely ocean view. It was a pleasure to spend four days with these amazing girlfriends, and such fun to watch them get acquainted with each other. We've decided it should become an annual tradition - now, we just have to convince our husbands. ; )

A cloudless, but chilly, day at the beach:

Our fun Friday night: visiting the Zoo Gallery and dining at The Red Bar:

My sweet friends treated me to a morning at a spa, while they explored the nearby town of Seaside. What a blessing to laugh throughout the weekend and share this special birthday with them:

Friday, January 15, 2010

From Dr. Noel

I've written in previous posts about Dr. Francisco Noel, One Vision's hands and feet in Haiti. Below is a letter written by him to provide an update on the status of the orphanage and children. His native languages are Creole and French, so his English is a bit rough, but I am sure you can understand what he's trying to communicate. Also, when he writes about "our kids," he is referring to the orphans:

"A disastrous earthquake has left many dead, or injured and homeless, including us and our kids (became homeless again, one of the kids was injured). For now all our family and the kids are safe, however the damages are important for a poor country like Haiti. The reconstruction will be problematic and will of course require a lot of technical human resources in all aspects.

The school and the church has been damaged specifically for the school which has been flattened. The specialist said there's another possibilities to receive another shock like this which will complicate the situation finally. The location where they are now is no more safe.

For now brother it will take us some money to relocate the kids and rebuild some infrastructures, and we think it would be the right time to start our building project. In the same brother we would like to thank all the US families from Tennessee who supported the One Vision International Project in Haiti, which help feeding the kids and prepare the base for the long term part of the Program. We would like for them to continue pray for us because God hear them and actually we're safe because of their Prayers.

Dear brother, tell to everyone who help us and the other that God calls to join us that the kids and other families in the community where the property is need them now more than ever. The first needs are for the moment food, water, and medical care to improve and also relocate the kids. Actually every kids sleep outside on a tarp. Please brother try to help us. We are in serious need.

We will keep you informed about the situation as it develops. This morning we will close and leave our house because it no safer. In the meantime we will stay with Mr. Isi and the kids as agreed as soon as we progress. God bless you brother and it is a blessing to have you in our life."

- Cecile & Francisco Noel

Worth a Thousand Words

The following are pictures that Dr. Noel, One Vision's director in Haiti, snapped with his camera. Below you can see the children and caregivers on Wednesday, the day following the earthquake. They are gathered under one tarp on the property of the orphanage. All of the buildings were structurally damaged by the quake, leaving no building safe for their shelter.

Dr. Noel stands surveying the damage to the orphanage. Here, he looks upon the former kitchen, which has completely collapsed.

This structure shown in the next photo holds the former school rooms, where the children both studied and ate their meals during the day. If the earthquake had struck any earlier, I would be writing a very different story. Praise God the children were not inside these rooms at the time of the quake.

As these children and caregivers know, better than any of us, life goes on. Here, the caregivers prepare a meal for the 120+ children.

Two days after the storm, you can see that the shelter is improved somewhat. It's amazing how the caregivers can manage such a large group of children with so few resources. In the following photo, you can see the children sitting neatly and enjoying one of their daily meals, provided by One Vision and the generosity of their sponsors.

It is amazing to consider what these young children have endured in their short life: hurricane, homelessness, grief, hunger, disease, and now an earthquake. As I look at these pictures, I can see their sweet faces, as if they are standing in front of me eager for their turn with my camera. They have bright eyes and wide smiles, and they are full of life and hope and longing.

I pray that God will continue to protect them and that someday we can know the affect that each of their lives has on Haiti. I believe that they will grow to know God, love Him, and change their world with their story.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti

When I look back on 2009, two highlights of my year were my trips to Haiti with One Vision International. At the start of last year, I had no idea that I would travel there once, let alone twice. Both were amazing experiences, and I fell deeply in love with a group of boys and girls living with great loss, tremendous need, and little hope.

Most of these 120+ children lost their families and their homes as a result of the three hurricanes and one tropical storm that swept across Haiti in the Fall of 2008. Now, I sit and think of them in the aftermath of another destructive act. I can't imagine how their young hearts can take such events and how their young minds can process what they are experiencing.

As I watch the news and hear reports coming in about the earthquake, my heart isn't far from these boys and girls, and I anxiously await news of their safety. This afternoon I learned that orphanage was indeed impacted by the quake, with buildings collapsing, walls falling, and structural damage in what remains standing. Thank God none of the children were killed, and very few of them were injured.

The shelter that they've called home for only the past four months is now uninhabitable. They are once again homeless. They currently huddle under a tarp in the courtyard of the orphanage, well away from any buildings that might give way.

Dr. Francisco Noel, One Vision's hands and feet in Haiti, and his wife Cecile made their way to them today after a five hour drive (it usually only takes 1.5 hours). They brought food, water, and medicine to care for the children. Dr. Noel will now begin the difficult work of locating new shelter for them. (Dr. Noel and his wife, who live in Port au Prince, lost their home to the earthquake. They are now homeless too.)

One Vision owns 40 acres for the future orphanage and is in the process of raising funds to start its construction. Now, they desperately need financial resources for more immediate needs - medicine, food, water, and supplies for these 120+ children and their caregivers.

If you can help with a financial donation, please visit One Vision's Web site (, where you can donate on-line, or mail a donation to One Vision International, P.O. Box 20608, Knoxville, TN 37940, marked "One Vision Haiti."

Thank you so much for your generosity, and most of all, thank you for remembering this special group of children in your prayers for the days, weeks, and months to come.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Celebrating 40

A milestone has come, and I have to say it was celebrated with pleasure and not pouting. As Tim and I were discussing where to celebrate my big birthday, he suggested we dine at Regas. I was very touched by this idea, as I've celebrated many special, memorable moments at this restaurant with my family through the years. It had, however, been nearly 20 years since I'd been there. It did not disappoint. Our family dressed up (Reed was especially excited to have the occasion to wear a tie) and enjoyed a delicious meal - topped off with their amazing Strawberry Shortcake. Yum! Happy birthday to me!

Friday, January 8, 2010

First Snow of 2010

The new year got off to an exciting start with a snowfall, which resulted in a bonus day off from school. There was little accumulation, but enough for the boys to coast down our street on my old sled. Here are some fun photos from our wintery day: